Watching the world and all of its greatest hits and flops, the notion of "gifts" keep coming to my mind. Then I thought, I've already touched on this subject in my book. Regardless, this is a pertinent time to remind anyone who wishes to recognize the present for what it is a chance to see what I'm alluding to. I'm going to share this chapter with you in hopes that it offers a precious reminder on what a gift the "present" truly is.
Chapter 2: The Present Is a Gift
Without using a dictionary, try defining the term “time”. For many this is not an easy task. Time is something we know is present, but what does it truly mean? According to physicists, time as we know it only moves in one direction: forward. It’s one of the great mysteries of physics. While science has yet to answer why time only moves forward, I’ll simply take that as my cue to live each moment that is given to me to the fullest.
In essence, the present is a “present” . . . a gift. And gifts are something to appreciate, to cherish, and to enjoy. Often when we start to struggle in our daily lives, our minds get the best of us, making us lament on things that have already happened (move on!) or worrying about possibilities that have not happened yet (pointless anxiety!). It's a near certainty that the more you live your life in the present moment, the happier you will be. Unknowns (the future) and guilts (the past) are surefire ways to destroy your workday and your well-being. It may be cliché, but tomorrow is no guarantee, and you’re not getting yesterday back, so what’s the point in brooding over either?
It was truly with this focus on the present that my Ironman journey began. Everybody thought I was crazy (including my wife): “Are you insane?” (Yeah, probably a little.) “You’ve never run more than three miles in your life!” (Your point being?) “So, you’re going to ride a bike for 112 miles straight?” (Well, not really straight; I’m sure there are some turns in there.)No matter what anyone said to me (and throwing all common sense out the window), I simply said, “I’m going to do an Ironman.”Why? The answer is really simple. We only live once, and I decided that it was something that I wanted to do. This life is my “present.” I do not get an option for a return to syndication. So . . . I signed up for my first Ironman!
Let me bring this over to the work setting (the classroom in my case, but you can apply it to any setting).
Let’s imagine a workday scenario. I’m in the middle of delivering a riveting lesson about Anne Frank and her struggles while hiding out in the secret annex, in Amsterdam. The students are actually interested in what I am presenting. However, midway into the lesson, I start thinking about an after-school meeting I’ve been dreading. I have no clue as to why I've been called to it except for a vague e-mail received during lunch. As the future meeting plays out in my head, I am losing what’s currently most important . . . teaching my students. My lesson starts to stumble, my thoughts become muddled, and within a couple of minutes, I have lost my students.
I have a little secret for you and in hindsight, one I wish I’d known long ago. That future meeting, (which is a metaphor for any future thing you are stewing about), is coming no matter what. There is nothing you can do about it presently. Therefore, try not to lose the beauty of the moment in front of you. Worrying about future events is a black hole from which you will never escape. Do not allow it to pull you in.
Your Workout - Go With the Flow
For this month's endurance workout, you're going to attempt to remain in the flow of ONE thing.
Psychologists use the term “flow” to signify being so in tune with your current responsibility that everything else around you dissipates. While not easy, achieving flow must be a conscious decision. Try setting an attainable goal for one day. Make it something that will enhance your experience for this current day. Once your goal is decided, create a plan of action to achieve it.
Example Goal: Truly Staying In the Moment With My Family
Step 1: When I get home from work, I'm turning my phone off.
Step 2: I'm going to be completely engaged with my children (conversation, homework help, play, etc.).
Step 3: I won't turn the phone on until I get up for work the next day.
Whatever your flow goal may be, make sure that you are fully engaged, lock in, open that "present" . . . and see what life has waiting for you!